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 Issues | Book of Common Prayer |Short HIstory

A Short HIstory of the Prayer Book

4. The Second Prayer Book of 1552

by Rev T.W. Gilbert

It was not long before circumstances made it clear that the 1549 Prayer Book would be amended.  Those who were using it did not do so with any idea that they were employing a book which was a compromise between Protestant and Roman Catholic teaching. The fact remains that sincere Roman Catholics like Bishop. Gardiner contended that the 1549 book permitted Roman Catholic doctrine, and especially in the important subject of the Holy Communion. Gardiner even went so far as to declare that Cranmer in his treatise on the Holy Communion, which was published in 1550, was at variance with the Prayer Book of 1549.

In the early part of 1551, therefore, a committee was appointed to review the Prayer Book, and it was clear that the one service above all others which was to be revised was the Holy Communion Office. When the new Prayer Book of 1552 was issued it was found that drastic changes had been made in every case where Bishop Gardiner had found support, either for the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation, or for the offering of the consecrated elements in sacrifice as in the Mass.

For example, Gardiner had declared that the 1549 Words of Administration taught “the Body and Blood of Christ to be under the form of bread and wine.” In 1552, therefore, the second sentence of our present words of Administration was alone used, and this was a clear assertion of Cranmer's teaching that Christ's presence is to be found not in the bread and wine, but in the worthy receiver. This fact was also emphasised in another way. At the end of the service in the 1549 book was a Rubric declaring with reference to the broken pieces of the wafer distributed to the communicants that “men must not think less to be received in part (of the wafer) than in the whole, but in each of them (i.e., in each part of the wafer) the whole body of our Saviour Jesu Christ.” This Rubric was now omitted. Moreover, the great change involved in the breaking up of the Canon or Consecration Prayer was also done with a deliberate intention. Bishop Gardiner had declared that the Invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Consecration proclaimed the Real Presence of Christ in the elements; the Invocation was, therefore, omitted. He asserted that “Masses for the dead” were supported by the prayer for the departed in the first part of the Canon; this prayer was also omitted. Gardiner had
found the Real Presence in the fact that the Prayer of Humble Access followed the Consecration; the Prayer of Humble Access was, therefore, placed before the Prayer of Consecration.

These are only some of the changes made in the Canon, but they are sufficient to show how Cranmer altered the service in every case where Gardiner had showed that the 1549 book could be used as the Mass of the Roman Missal. The 1552 Prayer Book, therefore, breathes a completely different atmosphere from the 1549 book. The rising tide of Protestant teaching which was manifested in England, as throughout Europe, had given England a book which was no longer a compromise between the old and the new. The 1552 Prayer Book clearly and definitely proclaimed England on the side of the Protestant and Reformed religion, and the fact that it was reprinted several times during its short life indicates something of the favour with which it was received. For
convenience of comparison with the features of the Prayer Book of 1549, mentioned on pp. 7, 8 and 9, the following points are worthy of notice in connection with the 1552 book.

1. In Morning and Evening Prayer an Ornaments Rubric is added reducing the vestments to be worn, i.e., the Priest or Deacon is to use a surplice only at all services, including the Holy Communion, and the Bishop is to wear a “rochet,” a long white linen vestment; all our present service before the Lord's Prayer is added, and the Jubilate, Cantate and Deus Misereatur are added.

2. In the Baptismal Office the ceremonies of Exorcism, etc., are omitted.

3. In Confirmation the sign of the Cross is omitted.

4. In the Visitation of the Sick, Extreme Unction and Reservation are omitted, and Private Confession restricted.

5. In the Burial Service the Prayer for the Dead is omitted, and also the order about celebrating the Holy Communion.

6. In the Holy Communion Office:

  • i. The Ten Commandments and Responses are added.
  • ii. The Gloria in Excelsis is removed to the end of the service.
  • iii. The Benedictus qui venit is omitted.
  • iv. The Canon is broken up into (a) the Prayer for the Church Militant, (b) the Consecration Prayer, (c) the first Thanksgiving Prayer after Communion.  The Prayer for the Dead, prayer for the Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and wine, and the reference to “making the memorial” are all omitted.
  • v. The Agnus Dei is no longer to be sung.
  • vi. The Rubric declaring that in the broken pieces of the wafer men are not to think that less is received than in the whole wafer, but that in each piece “the whole body of our Saviour Jesu Christ” is received, is omitted.

Note.  The “Black Rubric” was added to the Statutory Prayer Book, probably by authority of the Privy Council.

>> The Prayer Book of 1559

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